I’ll just preface this entry with a confession of sorts, AA style, so here goes; hello, my name’s Justin and I’m a music nerd. As such I possess a very broad palette when it comes to musical taste, so you’re just as likely to find me thrashing about to early 80’s hardcore punk as you are skankin’ to some reggae, kick-stepping to some Drum and Bass, cold chillin’ to some gangsta rap or air-guitaring like a mofo to some classic rock. But of all the many and varied genres that I’m in to, soul music holds a particularly special place in my heart. I first really got in to it when I began collecting records back in my bohemian, arts student days and would wile away countless hours putting the needle in the groove (it’s ok, this isn’t a coded drug reference, so y’all can relax) and hearing that unique blend of fantastic song writing, brilliant musicianship and amazing vocalists glow out of my record player’s speakers. Sadly, its days were long since passed, and the closest I would ever get to witnessing such brilliance in the flesh was Otis Reading Live In Europe, or so I thought.
Yet in recent times something amazing has happened. Soul music is back! Kick-started primarily by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, the past few years have witnessed a remarkable resurgence in that most likeable of musical styles, and few are happier about it than yours truly. One such
act that has wholeheartedly embraced this soul revival is Clary Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes, who are, to use their own words, a “high hair, high volume, motherloving soul train” of a nine piece hailing from Melbourne. A friend of mine had seen them live a while ago and raved about them, so when I happened across an advertisement for a gig of theirs at the Fly By Night Club in Fremantle I quickly assembled a posse and booked tickets.
Having had my expectations sufficiently raised, let’s just say that I was not disappointed. Taking the stage amidst a flurry of up-tempo grooves, Ms Browne and her Rackettes proceeded to tear the house down with a ferocious, swaggering set of blistering soul music that could have quite easily been transported directly from 1964. It was all bee-hive hair, shimmering dresses, choreographed dance moves and toe tappin’, hip swingin’ beats. However, this was no hackneyed tribute band chugging through old standards in a sad attempt to relive the glory days. All of the music was their own, which lent the performance a sense of freshness, urgency and vitality. Sure, what they’re doing isn’t technically original, but it’s so far removed from the style of performance that most people are used to that it doesn’t matter in the slightest. What was old, it would seem, has become new again.
Now while the band were great and the Bangin’ Rackettes impeccable, special mention must be given to Clary Brown herself. She is, in short, a star and exudes a sense of style, charisma and sexuality of one simply born to hold audiences in the palm of her hand. Oh yeah, she also has an amazing voice, which helps more than a little as well. Now I don’t want to seem like a pervy typical male here, but it has to be said that she’s incredibly sexy too (the girls I went with were all in
agreement with this, for what it’s worth). One of the lads described her as looking like a human version of Jessica Rabbit (from Who Framed Roger Rabbit), and I have to say that this is pretty spot on. The lady has curves and knows damn well how to use them, and in this age of photoshopped, stick-thin starlets it is refreshing to see a powerful, attractive woman embrace her curvaceousness rather than trying to hide it. Anyway, I’ll roll my tongue up now and put it back in my mouth.
As for the venue, those of you that haven’t been to see some music at the Fly By Night Club should really remedy this as soon as possible. It’s a cavernous, hangar-like building with great acoustics and a large, reasonable priced bar and fantastic atmosphere; so it has all the bases covered when it comes to catering to gigs. As if this wasn’t good enough, it’s run by a not for profit community musicians club, so you can be assured that the prices are kept to a minimum, and that what you do fork out is going to the bands themselves and supporting the local live music scene. It’s all good really, so if you have the chance to either see Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes or to get to the Fly By Night (or do both simultaneously, should they play there again), then by all means don’t hesitate, you won’t regret it!